French police find body in missing teenager case

MONTPELLIER, France - French police probing the disappearance of an 18-year-old girl found a body on Thursday after the main suspect confessed to her murder, a source close to the investigation said.

The 39-year-old man led police to a site in the woods near the southern town of La Grand-Combe where the girl lived, after admitting to the crime on Wednesday evening, the source said.

The body bore traces of a "violent death" and police could not immediately identify it, they added.

Sihem, whose surname has been withheld, disappeared after leaving her home in La Grand-Combe late at night on January 25, "probably to meet someone she knew", according to the investigating magistrate.

Police deployed helicopters and sniffer dogs to try to find her without success.

On Tuesday, police detained both the suspect, a man convicted for previous offences, and an ex-girlfriend of his, herself a cousin of the missing girl.

"I assisted a man who decided to confront his heavy responsibility in Sihem's disappearance and to end the unbearable suspense for her relatives by guiding the investigators," his lawyer Jean-Marc Darrigade said.

"He knows that his crime is unforgivable but his silence would only have made it worse."

Investigators had initially suspected a kidnapping.